50-hour waits on Upper Mississippi River irritates shippers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has timed the average wait time for barge traffic on the Upper Mississippi River system locks at 50 hours, frustrating shippers of commodities, such as grain, road salt and construction materials.
“With a 10 percent increase each year in emergency closures for repairs for more than a decade, the system has lost an entire year due to underfunded maintenance and repair work, despite the fact that UMRS (Upper Mississippi River system) shippers contribute more than 40 percent into the fuel tax depository for capital improvements,” said the Midwest Area River Coalition (MARC) 2000 in a statement today.
River transport shippers seeking increased funds for lock and dam modernization are up against stiff environmental lobbies. These lobbies claim river traffic is down.
“A slight decline in grain traffic for 2004 was a product of market fluctuations, not an absence of river traffic confidence,” said MARC 2000. “Reductions in bushels for market due to a sluggish 2004 harvest, combined with low prices in 2004, led to producers hoping for bigger rewards in 2005.”
“You only have to look around at the piles of corn on the ground to realize that storage is filled to capacity,” said Greg Guenther, a farmer from Belleville, Ill. and a member of the St. Louis-based MARC 2000. “When the market signals that it wants the corn by increasing bids, the movement will start again.”